The Harrow Club – Alan Bateman’s early memories

My association with the Harrow Club started almost sixty years ago when I was ten years old  and lasted for over forty years. I lived in Calverley Street and joined the club in 1958 following in the footsteps of my two older brothers Roy and Ray.

The club at that time was for boys only and was managed by the legendary Lew Ashman who many will remember. Lew had joined the club in 1953 and was assisted by Dick Kelly (the subs man) Jacko Poplett, Mike Cappochi, Johnny Green and many others whose names elude me at this time. In addition there were many old Harrovians : Sir Lawrence Verney, Eric Cross (Hubbly Bubbly) Hugo Trotter DFC, Dudley Saville and many more who gave up their time freely to ensure the smooth running of the club. They were all great benefactors !

The club was basically divided into three sections the minors being from 11 to 14 years of age the juniors was 14 to 16 and the seniors was 16 to 19. There was also an old guard. We paid a nominal sum each week as a sort of membership fee. The club’s entrance in those days was in Bard Road at the rear of the existing building and comprised a ground floor area, a basement area and a half landing room where the canoes were built.

On the ground floor we had three table tennis tables, a snooker table lovingly cared for by Gus Harding, a billiard table and two dart boards. There was also draughts, chess, Lexington and a large collection of National Geographic magazines.

Harrow Club .A.Bateman 1

In the basement we had the Gym, a Shower Room and the Canteen where Mrs Pithers dispensed beverages, sweets and her famous bacon rolls. Many will remember the padded pole in the centre of the Gym, the wood block flooring and the wall bars.

Lew was very sports minded as well as academically inclined and you were expected and encouraged to participate in various sporting activities such as Football, Cricket, Swimming, Canoeing, Boxing, Table Tennis and Snooker. There were also week ends away and visits to Harrow School. For those less sports minded there were Draughts, Chess, Lexington, Reading and I believe Debating.

Harrow Club.ABateman canoes

Lew Ashman with canoeists.

For us minors the club was open Mondays,Wednesdays and Fridays and at week ends if playing Cricket or Football. We were extremely lucky in having Albert Smith an ex QPR player and a lovely man as our football and cricket coach.

Harrow Club A Bateman6

Ex QPR player Albert Smith (on right) with Lew Ashman.

As well as the club in Bard Road we were fortunate in having our own sport’s ground in North Wembley where Albert was the groundsman and his dear wife Pat operated the canteen. In the summer months we would go to the grounds for cricket coaching and it was like going to the country and in sharp contrast to where most of us lived.

Sport was a very important part of the clubs activities and as well as internal competitions each year.

Harrow Club A.Bateman 10

QPR legend Rodney Marsh presents a 5 Aside trophy or contest held at Wormholt Park

The London Federation of Boys Clubs organised many sporting events at which the club boys excelled in winning countless cups and trophies. No matter what sport or activity the club could put together a very strong team. The club also did well in quizzes and I remember a poetry competition being won as well.

Harrow School Boys’ Club Juniors 1963-64

Harrow School Boys’ Club Seniors 1963 – 1964

The club had many fine sportsman many of whom were chosen to represent the London Federation.  It should also be mentioned that two boys, David Sanders and Alan Wilkinson became the first in the country to obtain  the Duke of Edinburgh’s gold award for canoeing.

Harrow Club A Bateman 4 Dof e award

David Sanders and Alan Wilkinson receiving the Duke of Edinburgh’s award for canoeing

A highlight of the year was the annual week end away at Woodrow High house in Amersham which was a joint affair with boys from Harrow School. The teams were equally divided and the idea was for the boys to get to know each other and break down any barriers which may have existed in a sporting and competitive fashion. If at the start of the week end there was some apprehension amongst the boys by the end all had been forgotten and strong links were forged which was the intention. The week end was all about team work and I can’t remember a time when it did not work.

Perhaps the main highlight of the year was the Isle of Wight camp held for two weeks at Whitecliff Bay. I was twelve when I first went there and it was terrific. To get to the island was an adventure in any event. Meeting at the club we travelled from Latimer Road station arriving at Victoria for the train to Portsmouth, then the ferry to Ryde followed by the steam train to Brading where a fleet of vehicles was waiting to take us on to camp. We were all excited and I can well remember the fun and games on the trains and ferry. We slept in either a bell tent or ridge tent, 6 or 8 to each tent You were expected to keep it neat and tidy, blankets folded etc. There was a tent inspection each day and at the end of the week prizes were given to the tidiest tent and individual.

Harrow Club Bateman8 IofWight

Isle of Wight camp, 1960

Some will no doubt remember the initiation ceremony involving a tub of cherry blossom and a wire brush.

They were really happy days site-seeing, swimming, sun bathing, crazy golf, quoits competition, bingo and of course – ‘shopping’ . Mrs Pithers, her husband Reg Lew, along with the staff and volunteers already mentioned worked wonders to ensure we had a great time and we did.

Another adventure for the older boys of the club was a trip to either France or Spain. In my case it was Spain. We travelled through France sleeping at the side of the road eventually reaching Sitges where we had to lift Lew from the drivers seat. It was my first time abroad and again it was a wonderful experience. Hugo Trotter drove us back through the Pyrenees on to Paris and then to the Eiffel Tower. I still carry the scars from that particular adventure.

They were indeed wonderful times and I am eternally grateful to Lew Ashman, the staff and Harrow School for providing me and my peers the opportunities that we would not otherwise have had. I made some great friends that I still see to this day.

The Harrow Club was such an important part of my life and having got so much from being a member I wanted to put something back so I carried on  for many years as a voluntary worker.

Any thoughts from anyone connected with the club would be most welcome.

Alan Bateman

This is one of two postings on the Harrow Club. The second is written by Brian Iles.

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34 Responses to The Harrow Club – Alan Bateman’s early memories

  1. Brian Allum says:

    I was a mate of your brother Roy, also knew Ray. I was often round your house in Calverly St. I think your mum’s name was Cicey ? And the Coopers lived next door, also a member of the Harrow Club for many years . The last camp I went to was in Poole and we stayed in a boys club. It was just before I was called up for the army and must have been 1955 . I remember all the old Jacko, Mike, Gus etc. Albert Smith used to turn up on a bike from Shepherds Bush to take training. The groundsman at Wembley was at that time George Simpson who you dearnt upset . Incidently I have a photo of your dad with my dad and my dad’s twin brother in the RAF. They came from Blechenden st. I am in my eighties now and not too good on a computer.
    All the best Brin Allum

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Dear Brian thank you for your response and I hope the blog evoked happy memories.
      Your right my mum was known as Ciss or Cissy her real name being Alice.
      So nice to hear from a mate of my dear brother Roy who left us so early.
      Would love to see that photo of my Dad and yours if at all possible.
      Ray remember you and he and I are very close.
      Going to the Harrow Club and growing up in the community that we did I am sure has stood us in good stead.
      With very best wishes
      Ray and Alan Bateman

      • Brian Allum says:

        Dear Alan Sorry to hear about Roy and sorry for delay in answering I was away for Christmas and have just read your message, I don’t know how to send photos,but will get somebody to show me all the best Brin Allum

  2. john henwood says:

    Lovely recollections Alan. I remember fondly Oxford Gardens primary school winter cricket practice in the basement gym organised by the legendary Mr Reg Lusby…….with the zinc plate in front of the stumps and his oft-repeated mantra of ‘LINE AND LENGTH!’
    Come the summer Oxford gardens teams were always best prepared.

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Thanks John.
      I also went to Oxford Gardens School and your right about Reg Lusby being a legend.
      A wonderful teacher and cricket coach whose love for the game was paramount.
      I think the current Ashes team could do with the likes of Mr Lusby
      Best Wishes
      Alan

  3. Archie Pithers says:

    Hi All, so lovely to read about all these memories, thanks to my niece Barbara Young nee Pithers. I am Archie Pithers and was born in 1934. I have lived in Coventry for over 60 years. I lived in Walmer Rd and my cousins Bobby and Danny Tuhey lived in Calverly St. I was best mates with Roy Bateman and Alan Cooper. I believe I started going to the club after returning from Devizes where I had been evacuated. I was officially too young to go to camp but Jona Jones (manager) told my mum, Mrs P that if she came along to help then he would let me go (not sure what year). She never stopped going till 19?? Any one remember our signature tune; WE ARE THE NOTTING HILL BOYS, WE KNOW OUR MANNERS, WE SPEND OUR TANNERS,WE ARE RESPECTED WHERE EVER WE GO……It was lovely to see pictures of my Mum and Dad!!! That club and the volunteers who ran it were the making of many of us boys.

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Dear Archie
      So lovely to hear from you after all these years.
      I was aware you were best mates with Roy and Alan Cooper and can just about remember
      you coming to the house. You were I believe a very good footballer but unfortunately broke your leg playing for Albert United which ended your career.
      Whenever I meet up with old club boys of my generation conversation usually reverts about two people in particular that is Lew Ashman and Mrs P your mum who was universally loved by all who came into contact with her. She was an absolute diamond operating the canteen and dispensing her famous bacon rolls and how she ever catered for us at camp on that tiny cooker was nothing short of a miracle.
      They were wonderful happy times!
      Our signature tune went like this:WE ARE THE HARROW BOYS WE KNOW OUR MANNERS WE FIGHT WITH SPANNERS WE ARE RESPECTED WHERE EVER WE GO
      DOORS AND WINDOWS OPEN WIDE EVER SEEN A MONKEY EAT BROWN BREAD
      EVER SEEN LEWS CURLY HEAD WE ARE THE HARROW BOYS
      We have much to be grateful for in being connected to the Harrow Club and its Staff.
      I hope you are keeping well. Ray sends his regards
      With very best wishes
      Alan

      • Archie Pithers says:

        Thank you Alan, it is a pleasure reading all the comments from various people which bring back so many happy memories. Your comment about my mum brought a tear to my eye, she was a hero, as well as looking after the club boys she brought up us 6 children and kept down 2 different jobs!!!! They don’t make them like that anymore!!!
        Do you remember what year she finished with the club?
        Regards Archie

      • Alan Bateman says:

        Hi Archie
        as far as I can see Mrs P retired sometime in the early to mid 1970’s after giving
        wonderful service to the club.
        I can still smell her bacon rolls !!
        I trust you are well
        With very best wishes
        Alan

    • sheila jones nee tuhey says:

      Lovely to see your name Archie. I have been in touch with your nephew Richard and sent a copy of the Tuhey family tree. Bobby died this year so out of the 5 of us only me left. You moved a long way. I live in Slough but hear every now and then from Patsy Tuhey. Hope you’re keeping well
      Sheila Jones nee Tuhey

      • Archie Pithers says:

        Hello Sheila, this ‘blog’ thing is a great way to keep in touch!! Last time I saw Bobby was at Richie’s golden wedding anniversary. Ann and I went to Harrow for that. Unfortuneatly we were on holiday for both Rich and Hildas funeral. We met up with Maureen in Florida about 20 years ago. Winnie is still with us, she is 94 this year!!
        Hope all is well with you
        Love Archie and Ann

  4. Brian Iles says:

    Alan
    Did you stay in touch with Lou and know what became of him?

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Brian
      Lew left the club in 1969 having started in 1953.
      He went to Windsor where he managed a community centre for many years and later
      managed a museum.
      As I am sure you remember Lew loved musicals and had a very fine voice and number of us do go and see him perform with an amateur operatic society in Windsor performing
      Gilbert and Sullivan.
      Even his canoe was called ‘My Fair Lady’
      Lew died in the Autumn of 2002 and his funeral was attended by several old boys and those connected with Harrow School.I could not go as I was in hospital at the time.
      So many of us have much to be grateful for having Lew Ashman in our lives.
      Best wishes
      Alan

      • Brian Iles says:

        Alan
        Thanks for that information. Yes, you are absolutely right Lew was very much respected. Do you know what age he was when he died?
        I am trying to put a face to your name Alan which I do recall. Were you in the group photo that I attached to my blog? I can put names to a lot of the faces and I know that Terry Johnson, Tichie Hewitt and Mickey Rouse (I don’t think he was really a Michael but the nickname was obvious) are on the back row with Eric, are you with them?
        Would be good to hear from you.
        Best regards
        Brian

      • Alan Bateman says:

        Hi Brian
        I have asked my brother Ray who was at the funeral and we both think he was in his early eighties. You probably remember my brother Ray who is 74 and four years older than me. I did go to the IOW camps but quite a bit later than you.
        They were happy days Brian and gave us many opportunities that we would not otherwise of had.
        Keep well and best wishes
        Alan

  5. Tony Puxley says:

    Excellent post Alan and a wonderful trip down Nostalgia Lane. I`m one of those many who benefited so much through being a member of the Harrow Club from the age about about 10 to 17/18 years, under the leadership of Lew Ashman – who, not that we apprecjated it at the time, was a giant in setting an example and expanding our horizons to us Nottin` Hill kids. I was fortunate to go on the IoW camps and the French Riviera Holidays, play sport at Wembley sports ground (even drove the tractor with Albert, the football coach). I understand that Lew moved out to the Windsor area, Berkshire, and was managing a small local museum before he died in the late `90s – I was was so sorry to only learn that information after he`d passed because I was then living only 5 miles from Windsor myself, and would have loved to have caught up with Lew after what had been a gap of over 40 years.

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Thank you Tony and very pleased you enjoyed it.As you rightly say we did not always appreciate at the time, but looking back it provided us with a great grounding and education which has helped us through our adult life. Hope you are keeping well and hope to see you in the New Year.
      Alan

  6. My dad boxed at the club before the War. Great read and love the pics of Rodney and Albert Smith etc etc.

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Hi Steve thank you for your response and so glad you enjoyed it.You are obviously a QPR
      fan as I am.Seeing pictures of Albert and Rodney does remind us of the glory days.
      Happy Christmas
      Alan

  7. jack palmer says:

    Great memories Alan. These memories are still so vivid in my mind, great days. Hope you and Ray are fine, regards Jack Palmer.

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Hi Jack so pleased the post brought back so many happy memories.Yes they were great days and we so much to be grateful for. All things considered Ray and I are both well
      as we hope you are.
      Happy Christmas
      Alan

  8. Bill Stokes says:

    Having read what was posted on the forum, I felt I had to say something.
    I joined the Harrow Club when I was 9. My dad and uncles had been members, I could not wait to become a member. From the age of 9 Lew was my hero. He took myself and many many others on a journey, the IOW camps canoeing trips, to the south of France and down the river Wye. Took us to the Silver Arrow Ball at the Grosvenor Hotel. We got some funny looks in a DJ walking up Latimer Rd. Going to football matches in Lew’s Jeep. Playing table tennis with Alan and Ray.
    I remember one year at the IOW camp, we all made Lew sing on the talent competition at the Vine pub and he won. The pub is still there, nothing has changed. Lew and the club taught me right from wrong, a sense of fair play and to be the best that I can be.
    I took all these lessons in to my coaching both table tennis and swimming. I wish I had the chance to say good bye to my friend and hero.
    I hope all the club boys are well and I wish you all the best
    Bill Stokes ( club member 1954 to 1972 )

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Hi Billy
      I am so pleased you enjoyed it and that it brought back so many happy memories.
      As I have said we were so lucky in many respects although perhaps we did not appreciate it at the time.What we learnt from Lew and all those staff members has stood us in good stead throughout our adult lives.
      Ray and I are both well all things considered as we hope you are.
      Happy New Year !!
      Alan

  9. David Greenman says:

    Hi Alan, Just wanted to say what a well written piece. Very informative together with some wonderful photographs. So many familiar faces, some sadly no longer with us, but good to see the photographs and remember them. I was lucky enough to have belonged to first, the Rugby Club in Walmer Road from 1958 to 1964 and to the Harrow Club from 1965 to 1968. Two great youth clubs, great rivalry in the best possible sense, as everyone knew each other. Happy days, happy memories and seeing this blog is a great reminder of how lucky we were to have such clubs to belong to. Also it makes you appreciate how much we owe to the people like Lew Ashman managing the Harrow Club and Alec Briggs managing the Rugby Club along with all the volunteers that helped them. Thanks again Alan, all the best for 2018 and hope to see you soon.

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Hi David thank you for your response and kind comments.
      We have much to be grateful for in having both Lew Ashman and Alec Briggs in our lives.
      They were of pivotal importance to us along with other staff and provided us with an excellent outlook on life which we have carried forward to this day I think.
      There were not many boys who belonged to both clubs and I can only assume that you finally saw the light in 1965 when joining the Harrow club.
      All jokes aside both clubs were terrific and gave us a great grounding.
      With best wishes to you and your family
      Alan

  10. Peter Norrington says:

    HI Alan.
    Many thanks for this trip down memory lane. and it is great to read the responses from names from the past. Lew was a legend. along with everybody else mentioned. look forward to meeting again in the Pav in March. Happy New Year to you all.
    Regards Peter Norrington.

    • jack palmer says:

      hi peter whats happening at the pav in march hope you are well jack palmer.

    • Alan Bateman says:

      Hi Peter
      Glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane.
      We all have fantastic memories and the Harrow Club is the main factor which binds us all together. Looking forward to our next meeting.
      Happy New Year and keep well.
      With very best wishes
      Alan

  11. Brin Allum says:

    Alan I tried to send photo of your Dad did you receive it

  12. Eddy Harrington says:

    I have Great Memories of the Harrow Club. Us Harringtons are among those who were lucky to be taught the Meaning of Friendship and Respect by Lew Ashman Sean Hinds. The Bateman Brothers and all involved at the Harrow Club !

  13. Peter Briggs says:

    Hi. Came across you while searching for something else. My Dad was Alec Briggs. He left the Rugby Clubs roughly around the same time as Lew Ashman left. Great times.

  14. john henwood says:

    I wonder if anyone could help finding Harrow Club member Alan Brasher. We did a lot of fishing together. He lived in Silchester Terrace then and was a regular in the Kenilworth in the 60’s.

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